Medicaid a flash point in first Reynolds and Hubbell debate

DES MOINES — Republican Governor Kim Reynolds and Democratic challenger Fred Hubbell met in their first televised debate last night, making their case directly to Iowa voters.

“We can’t afford to go backwards and that’s the direction that Fred wants to take the state,” Reynolds said during her closing statement in the hour-long forum broadcast on KCCI TV and co-sponsored by The Des Moines Register.

In his closing statement, Hubbell said: “She promises more of the same and I promise to bring change.”

Private management of the state’s Medicaid program was the major flash point of the evening. Hubbell has pledged to start unraveling the managed care contracts Reynolds has signed if he’s elected governor.

“The costs are out of control,” Hubbell said. “We now find out that the per-member cost of Medicaid is rising faster now than it did before privatized Medicaid.”

Reynolds said the old system was not sustainable.

“You’re telling everybody what they want to hear and not talking about how you’re going to fund the system,” Reynolds said. “…We have two years of experience. We now know what it costs to take care of our most vulnerable Iowans.”

The candidates were given a chance to ask one another questions. Hubbell questioned a campaign check Reynolds took and Reynolds questioned Hubbell’s personal finances.

“I’m transparent with the contributions that I’m taking,” Reynolds said. “Why don’t you release your tax statements so Iowans can see maybe what you’re hiding or what you’re embarrassed of?”

Hubbell responded: “I think the governor is questioning my motivation to run for governor. It’s never been about the money. I’ve even offered to not be paid as governor. The only special interest I have is Iowans and I’m going to work every day to help their lives be better.”

Reynolds has released 10 years of the personal income tax returns she and her husband filed. Hubbell released the front pages of the tax return he and his wife filed last year, showing their income and how much they donated to charity.

Toward the end of last night’s debate, both of the candidates said they oppose reinstating the death penalty. Both oppose legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Both said local governments should decide when fireworks may be sold and set off.  Hubbell said “yes” to term limits, while Reynolds said “no.”

The two candidates are scheduled to participate in two other televised debates this month. Libertarian Party candidate Jake Porter sat in the audience for last night’s debate. His supporters protested outside before the event, chanting, “Let Jake debate.”

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